Whether you are new to writing or a seasoned professional, building an author's platform is essential to marketing yourself and selling books. At its core, the purpose of creating a platform is to effectively engage and connect with your readers.
Think of your platform as your visibility as an author. Your ability to sell your books will come down to defining your message, making connections, and marketing your brand. Combining these elements creates the foundation for building a cohesive author's platform.
Is An Author's Platform Actually Necessary?
You might be thinking that just putting out quality content is enough to launch you to success. It takes more than simply being good at what you do, however.
Having a strong platform gives you credibility as an author. This is what encourages readers to buy your books and potential publishers to invest in you. As you promote yourself through your platform, you'll gain authority and influence while raising your brand equity.
How To Build Your Platform
1. Define Your Purpose
Identify the vision you want your work to be known by. This could include:
- Qualities that make you unique
- Topics and subjects you want to write about
- Messages and themes your work incorporates
- How your writing serves your readers
- How your strengths, interests, and passions define your purpose
Properly articulating the vision behind your writing allows you to clearly express your purpose as an author. Determine what unique experiences set you apart and use that to define your message.
2. Create a Brand
Your name, author photo or logo, colors, and typography are all part of establishing a brand for yourself. Creating brand recognition makes your work memorable to your readership, who in turn will be more likely to promote your books to others.
In addition to selecting the proper imaging for your brand, creating a tagline or catchphrase for your work can convey a certain idea for what you write. Your catchphrase should take into account the common themes throughout your work, your tone and voice as an author, and something that makes you relatable to your audience. Keep it short and memorable, like a hook for a good story, except your brand is the story.
3. Utilize “Owned” Media
An “owned” media outlet is simply any platform that allows you to have complete control over the content you publish. Some examples of owned media include:
- Author blogs, fan pages, and websites
- Video blogs and channels
- Social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter
Creating a website or blog gives you a digital home base to operate your platform from. Even if you don't have a book deal yet(If that is your goal?), launching your social media presence allows you to build an audience first.
There are some meaningful advantages that owned media supplies to your platform. For starters, most owned media is essentially free. Owned media provides proof of your expertise, quality of work, and brand identity. Generally, these platforms are simple to use and provide a way for you to connect with your audience directly.
4. Generate Quality Content
Whether you post articles, story excerpts, or videos, strive to produce content that offers your audience something they can utilize, rather than spamming them with useless updates about your books.
Conceiving valuable content can be challenging, but if you've already established the central themes to your platform, you can use those as building blocks. Stay current on the latest trends that involve your core themes and turn those topics into posts. Types of posts to consider for your updates include:
- List posts
5. Connect With Your Audience
To successfully engage your followers, post media updates daily. And instead of spreading yourself thinly across multiple platforms, limit yourself to the two that work for your content the most. There is no sense in promoting yourself on a platform that doesn't work for you.
Encourage your followers to have a conversation with you, and use their names when replying to them. Create an open dialogue with your readers to find out what content they have enjoyed and the type of content they'd like to see from you in the future.
Building an online following takes time and perseverance. Don't be discouraged in the beginning by how long it will take to build your audience. If you engage each new follower as they trickle in, you'll cement an audience that will stick with you over time.
6. Stay Relevant
Preserving your identity as a writer is important, but you can stay relevant without selling-out. As writers, we can tend to get stuck in a content rut where everything we turn out starts to feel repetitive. To prevent this inevitable roadblock you must continually analyze the market.
Research the topics you write about most often to see what direction the conversation is heading. Investigate what subtopics other writers are exploring and how that relates to your work. You will find some amazing stories to share with your social media audience also.
Search for keywords connected to your themes on social media outlets you don't utilize. This can give you valuable insights into uncharted topics pertaining to your platform.
7. Expand With “Earned” Media
Once you've become comfortable with creating content for your own media platforms, you'll want to seek out opportunities to grow your brand through other outlets.
Some examples of earned media include author interviews (We offer a free one here) with online or offline publications, guest posting on other blogs or websites, and customer reviews and testimonials.
These opportunities may come about from larger publications taking notice of you, but it will most likely come from self-promotion and making the effort to reach out on your own.
Networking with like-minded blogs and websites is the first step to promoting yourself. Once you have established a reputation with other authors, you can suggest cross-promotions to that will create advertising opportunities for both of you.
Each step you take to building your platform works towards achieving your ultimate vision for your work. Advice is useless without action, however. Creating your platform will take time and commitment, but don't let that discourage you from getting started.
How You Can Begin Right Now
- Search yourself. Do an internet search for your name and brand and see what results. This is what your audience will see when they search for you, so make sure it presents a positive image.
- Update existing social media. Go through your current social media accounts to make sure that all your contact info, branding, and images are up-to-date.
- Join the conversation. Make a point to comment on other author's articles and updates with unique insights, answers to questions, and relevant commentary. Just by dropping in on comment sections you can make your brand more visible.
- Subscribe to similar content. Sign up for email lists of authors and writing blogs you admire. Utilize the advice they are circulating for your own platform.
Even if you aren't actively working to build your brand, your reputation brands itself passively. Take control of creating your platform and define the direction your writing career will go in. What steps are you taking today to build your author's platform?